I see signs of Black Bear, Ursus americanus, up here in the mountains very often, though I don’t see the bears themselves frequently.
An often seen sign of bear, is a pile of bear poop, or bear “scat,” a term used in more sophisticated company. Bear scat can weigh typically, one half pound, to one pound. That should make you realize that these are large animals! What you find in bear scat is, of course, a direct reflection of what the bear has been eating. Ninety percent of a Black Bear’s diet is fruits and berries, and other vegetation, while the other ten percent is other animals, including insects and insect larvae.
Another sign that shows up here on the mountain, is the overturned grill. Care is taken to clean the grill, but I suppose one can never remove the scent of a freshly cooked meal. After all, Black Bears have extremely sensitive noses. It basically happens like this: the afternoon after the grilled dinner has been eaten, at a quiet moment, when no one is expecting it, least of all the visiting bear, there is a sudden, very loud — crash! I look out my studio windows and see a very startled bear running up the mountain, away from the overturned grill. The grill is a hefty, propane grill and is a good sized piece of cooking equipment. It surprises me how often it is turned over. It also is surprising how durable the grill is, coming through with hardly any damage. Surely it is not the same bear every time. It is very apparent that it truly frightens the bear!
Another sign that is encountered is the telltale paw print. On storm doors, on car hoods, on grills. Paw prints many places. And mind you, no trash is left outside up here to attract the bears. No trash to draw the Black Bear, but he figures this is his territory to explore at will. To leave tracks in mud. Tracks that say, “Black Bear was here!”
In the photo of the bear track above, the round object on the far right is a quarter for scale. If you look carefully, you can also see marks left by his claws.
This fellow is quite a climber. He’s gotten himself high into the apple tree, breaking branches along the way. I’ve also got a Montmorency Cherry tree. Cherries from that tree make such scrumptious pies, but I’ve given up trying to get cherries from the tree. Not only do the bears beat me to the cherries, but the tree is also half the size it should be, because of broken branches.
My husband grows Christmas trees. Bears and Christmas trees are not a good combination. Bears have a habit of chomping off the leader of a beautiful Christmas tree, or they may do more damage, breaking the tree further down.
But look at that sweet face! I would not trade my cabin in the mountains, my cabin surrounded by woods for anything in the world. I love living in Black Bear country!
I’ve just posted more photographs and information on how Black Bears mark their territory. You can find that post by clicking here.
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